Distribution Channel Strategies for a Manufacturer with Complementary Products


  • This research was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grants 70971060 and 71071073, and by the National Planning Office of Philosophy and Social Science under Grant 11&ZD169.

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In this article, we consider distribution channel strategies for an incumbent manufacturer who produces two complementary products and must determine whether or not to have another company to sell its products. We identify factors that affect the manufacturer's motivation to use dual-channel distribution. Our results show that both complementarity between complements and product substitutability between firms influence the manufacturer's channel strategy. We find that if the potential entrant does not produce the complement of the primary product, a higher complementary effect for the complement will weaken the motivation of the incumbent to add an indirect channel. We also find that the incumbent has a stronger incentive to add the indirect channel when a product's substitutability is high. Furthermore, we show that when the two channels have the same pricing power, the incumbent has a stronger incentive to sell through the indirect channel in a higher pricing power environment.